Aspen skimo athlete George Beck wraps up competition at Youth Olympic Games
Aspen’s George Beck wrapped up his time at the Winter Youth Olympic Games on Tuesday with the final of his three ski mountaineering events.
The third and final event was the mixed team relay, won by Switzerland in 35 minutes, 7 seconds. France was second and Spain was third, each about two minutes behind. Just missing the podium was Italy in fourth, followed by Germany in fifth and the United States in sixth.
The U.S. team included all four of its skimo athletes: Beck, Dillon’s Jeremiah Vaille, Silverthorne’s Grace Staberg and Utah’s Samantha Paisley.
On Monday, the athletes competed in the sprint races. Beck finished fifth out of six in his quarterfinal, with only the top three advancing to the semifinals. Vaille also finished fifth in his quarterfinal heat and did not advance. Italy’s Rocco Baldini eventually won sprint gold for the boys, while Spain’s Maria Costa Diez won for the girls. Neither of the U.S. girls made it past the quarterfinals.
The skimo events started Friday with the individual distance races. Beck finished 12th in 53:51.21, about six minutes behind winner Thomas Bussard of Switzerland. Vaille was 17th, just over nine minutes back of first. Switzerland’s Caroline Ulrich won gold for the girls, with Staberg finishing seventh and Paisley 20th.
This was ski mountaineering’s Youth Olympic Games debut; the sport has hopes of making its Olympic debut in 2026. All of the YOG skimo events were held at Villars Winter Park in Switzerland. Nearby Lausanne, home of the International Olympic Committee, is the main hub for the Winter Youth Olympic Games this month.
The Games will go through Jan. 22, with the snowboarding and freestyle skiing events scheduled for the next week. Basalt’s Hanna Faulhaber will compete in halfpipe skiing on Monday.
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Oregon’s Laurenne Ross and New Castle’s Alice McKennis Duran both announced their retirement in recent days and celebrated together during Saturday’s downhill. McKennis Duran is a local namesake who grew up skiing at Sunlight in Glenwood and formerly trained with the AVSC.